BRITAIN'S WORST NIGHTLIFE? Town left with one pub after brawls see other one's licence suspended


A TOWN that already had the worst nightlife in Essex has been left with just one pub in its centre after its rival had its booze licence suspended after a string of fights.

The Clock House, on Harlow's market square, had its alcohol licence suspended after a fight on June 18 in which two men were seriously injured - one left with a fractured skull.

The remaining pub in the town centre is the Wetherspoon's William Aylmer.

Its only late-night venue, Twenty One Bar (formerly CM20), which was open until 4am Thursday to Saturday closed in March 2019 and no where has replaced it.

While drinkers are reeling from the suspension, Harlow’s district commander has welcomed the decision after Essex Police's licensing team had raised significant concerns.

Members of the Essex Police licensing team submitted the application to Harlow Council following increased concern over incidents of violence connected to the Clock House, in The High.

The most recent incident resulted in two men being seriously injured in the early hours of June 18. One of those men sustained a fractured skull.

Other incidents which formed part of the application included an incident in early hours of May 28, where four separate violent crimes were recorded, an incident in the early hours of May 1 during which a large fight had broken out, and in the early hours of April 30, when a large disturbance was reported and one violent crime was recorded.

Between December 2021 and June 2022, we recorded 17 incidents of violent crime directly associated with the premises.

That has led to significant concerns being raised as to how the venue was being operated, including the level of intoxication being permitted while customers were there and about how staff deal with customers who become very drunk.

Despite a number of attempts by the licensing team to engage with the pub’s owners, Stonegate, including an agreed action plan, matters did not improve and a fast-track application for review of a premises licence was submitted to the council.

As part of that application, we asked the council to suspend the venue’s alcohol licence as an interim stop, ahead of a full licensing hearing.

Our application was heard on Friday 24 June and was approved.

The committee took note of the serious escalation in violence associated with the premises, the prolonged period over which the incidents have taken place and the attempted interventions by Essex Police which have not yielded any changes at the venue.

Gordon Ashford, Essex Police licensing manager, said “It is unfortunate that we felt it necessary to seek a suspension of the premises licence to sell alcohol; but we have done so to protect the public from escalating serious violence associated with the venue.

“We have already had productive discussions with Stonegate (the licence holder) and hope, ahead of a full hearing, that measures can be agreed upon to allow the venue to re-open on or before 20 July if the sub-committee is satisfied those measures are sufficient to protect the public.”

Chief Inspector Paul Austin, Harlow district commander, said: “This action shows that Essex Police in Harlow is dedicated to tackling serious violence in our community.

“As stated by our licensing team, we will work with venues to support them, however where standards aren’t met, we won’t hesitate to take action to protect our communities from serious harm.”